USMC F-35B crashes, KC-130J makes emergency landing after colliding during mid-air refueling

USMC F-35B crashes, KC-130J makes emergency landing after colliding during mid-air refueling

By Dario Leone
Sep 30 2020
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The F-35 pilot ejected safely while the KC-130 did a safe emergency landing. The pilot is now being treated for his injuries.

A US Marine Corps (USMC) F-35B Lightning II fighter jet assigned to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wings crashed in Imperial County, California, on Sep. 29, 2020 after clipping the wing of a service KC-130J tanker during a mid-air refueling.

As reported by ABC News, the F-35 pilot ejected safely while the KC-130 did a safe emergency landing. The pilot is now being treated for his injuries.

“At approximately 1600 (4 p.m. Pacific time) it was reported that an F-35B made contact with a KC-130J during an air-to-air refueling evolution, resulting in the crash of the F-35B,” read a statement from Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma in Yuma, Arizona. “The pilot of the F-35B ejected successfully and is currently being treated.”

“The KC-130J is on deck in the vicinity of Thermal Airport. All crew members of the KC-130J have been reported safe,” the statement said.

According to images appeared on social media, the tanker landed near a field.

USMC F-35B crashes, KC-130J makes emergency landing after colliding during mid-air refueling

A defense official said the KC-130 was stationed at MCAS Miramar in San Diego, California, and the F-35, that was operating out of Miramar too, was based in Iwakuni, Japan.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

According to Daily Mail, one eye witness described the F-35B as being ‘fully engulfed’ in flames by the time it impacted the ground. 

Two years ago, on Sep. 28, 2018, a USMC F-35B crashed outside the MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina. The pilot managed to eject safely.

The cause of the accident was determined to be from a faulty fuel tube, prompting officials to ground all F-35s to inspect the fleet on Oct 11.  They were returned to flight status the following day. 

The F-35s were first introduced to the US Military in 2015, with the first F-35B entering service with the USMC in July that year.

F-35B Print
This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-35B Lightning II VMFA-121 Green Knights, VK00, 169164 / 2015

H/T: Christian Nentwig

Photo credit: Daily Mail


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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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